The PC version of Grand Theft Auto had the vehicle specifications stored as plain text files. This meant that you could load them into a standard editor and change their handling. You could adjust many areas of the vehicles' dynamics from weight to acceleration, turning circle to strength, just by changing the values that were already there.

Once you have played with the cars you can also move onto the maps themselves. It took me a while longer and a bit more experimentation, but I soon found I could add power up crates to the levels to make it easy to pick up a rocket launcher right away, for example. Just remember to backup your data files before you start.

GTA is such an open ended game that you can get hours of fun out of it anyway, but when you discover you can create an almost indestructible taxi with a top speed of 400 mph and instantaneous acceleration you start to realise its real potential.

Grand Theft Auto

Creating fervor in mid 1998 was Paradigm's (PDM) Grand Theft Auto, a game that brought in an entirely new genre. Take a seat behind your computer, launch Grand Theft Auto and prepare to be immersed in a world of action, violence and crime. Work for the big guns in the crime scene, from sterotypical Mafia bosses to crooked cops, to make it to the top and become known as the "baddest motherfucker" on the streets; and in the meantime boost cars, murder innocents and cause general chaos.

The game is divided up into three cities, two levels to each city. The player progresses to the next level once a certain amount of money is acquired. This can be accomplished by succesfully completing jobs for crime bosses, or by carrying out any destructive task. For example, running around shooting pedestrians, ramming other cars, blowing things up, are all actions which will result in an increase in points (money).

Graphics were never brilliant, and by today's standards the graphics are incredibly lacking. With a maximum resolution of 800x600x32 alot is going on off screen, and to that note once things go off screen they have a tendency to "slip from memory" and dissappear. This is quite infuriating when you are chasing after a good car, for example, as a few seconds after it slips off screen it is mysteriously no where to be found. Sound is another matter altogether, for such a dated game it is surprisingly clear and the soundtrack itself is great and quite often amusing.

The cities themselves are of reasonable size and quite large enough to get lost in. There is a fairly large number of different car types, however the density of cars on screen at any given time is fairly low. Diversity is aplenty, each suburb within the city has some variation from the last, however the visual aspect of the suburbs is fairly uniform in each individual city. Searching through the suburbs is often a rewarding task, revealing Kill Frenzies and various powerups such as super weapons (flamethrower, rocket launcher), speed increase, slowmo etc.

One downfall of the game is that muliplayer is relatively non-existant. Although multiplayer does exist, it is incredibly buggy, and there was never anyone online, especcially since the release of Grand Theft Auto 2. LAN and IPX were also available, however they were still buggy.

Overall, Grand Theft Auto was a brilliant game for its time, and still remains to be a nice little game, however, if this is your type of game I would suggest looking into Grand Theft Auto 2 or the new Grand Theft Auto 3. If you insist on the original, however, it can be downloaded from just about any abandon ware site.

Final Verdict:

Graphics: 2/5
Sound: 4/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Playability: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

To the casual observer, it may seem that this game and its sequels encourage random violence. Nothing could be further from the truth. True, you get points for each vehicle rear-ended and each pedestrian run over. But only in fairly small quantities. Meanwhile, each crime gets you into more trouble with the police. The game provides spray shops where you can get your car repainted and the license plates changed to get the cops off your back, but using this service costs money. The more trouble you're in, the more it costs. The cost of erasing your record can easily be greater than what you earned by creating it. Crime does not pay... unless you do it right.

In order to actually complete the levels, you have to play it smart. You have to get your bonus multiplier up to the point where killing people counts for something. The main way you do this is by performing missions. And when you're on a mission, you can't afford to put success at risk for the sake of a thrill kill or two.

This is the real moral lesson GTA teaches us: Random violence is no match for focused, goal-oriented violence.

Rockstar began distributing a special freeware version of Grand Theft Auto in March 2003 via their website at This free version has been upgraded and rejiggered to run on modern PCs with a recent version of Microsoft Windows. The game does require DirectX and in order to download the 300+ megabyte install file users must fill out a registration form to sign up for the Rockstar newsletter. Users are then sent a confirmation e-mail that includes the download link. The announcement of the free release spread around the Internet like wildfire, prompting the registration server to become swamped.

It's encouraging to see a game company release one of their old products as freeware. It helps ensure that a classic game will live on for a while longer and prompts players who have never experienced GTA to sample the game, possibly leading them to purchase the sequels. And speaking of sequels, in December 2004 the company released Grand Theft Auto 2 for free as well.

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